Packwood's RightsAs one who has lived in...


Packwood's Rights

As one who has lived in countries where the constitutional protections we take for granted do not exist, I am appalled at the Senate Ethics Committee's handling of Sen. Robert Packwood.

While I abhor Mr. Packwood's conduct, I more strongly disapprove of the committee's unwillingness to afford him the rights guaranteed any accused by the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

Amendment IV guarantees the right of people to be secure in their personal papers, yet they seized his personal diaries. (Why do people in public life keep diaries?) Amendment V says no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process, yet a panel voted to deprive him of the seat in the Senate to which the people of Oregon elected him.

The decision of the Senate panel not to allow him public hearings in which he could face his accusers, several of whom filed anonymous complaints, violates Amendment VI.

When did Barbara Mikulski and her feminist friends repeal these three amendments? While Mr. Packwood probably deserved to be expelled and probably would have been eventually, the way it was done would have been more appropriate had he been afforded constitutional guarantees.

Chuck Frainie


Missing Kunstler

I appreciated your Sept. 8 editorial, "William Kunstler's Footsteps." I had the fortunate opportunity to work for him throughout law school, and his example has significantly influenced the way I practice law.

The controversy that always surrounded Mr. Kunstler was a result of his deep commitment to speak out hard and loud for the people he represented. The general public often did not like what he had to say. This was because they did not like the people he represented.

His clients were chosen, not because they could pay the most, but instead because they were challenging the powerful or were victims of the powerful.

He aligned himself with the people at the bottom. He aligned himself with the people who were questioning government. He valued people over authority, radicals over conformers and, most of all, justice over legal ritual. It is this last value that always caused such derision from the legal establishment. The American Bar Association denunciation that your editorial describes was one among many condemnations directed at Mr. Kunstler. They had to accept the premise that the persecuted deserved a lawyer, but not one who fought as hard and flamboyantly as he did. Advocacy for those who could pay exorbitant legal fees "is a badge of honor" for some attorneys, as you reported, but unacceptable when done on behalf of people the mainstream legal community saw as undesirable.

For over 30 years, we heard his voice again and again. He spoke out going to court, in court, leaving court and out of court. He spoke at Attica with prisoners, at Wounded Knee with Native Americans, at Catonsville and Chicago with protesters, in Birmingham with Martin King, and in the Bronx with Larry Davis. Right up to his death, he continued to advocate on behalf of the people he saw as marginalized and persecuted.

His wispy hair and glasses ever precariously balanced on his forehead became a symbol for the rights of all people against government and power. In that sense he didn't just speak for his clients. He spoke for all of us who are concerned about human rights. Many people within the legal community and without are concerned about these same issues, and they will continue to be raised.

Yes, Bill Kunstler's voice will be sorely missed.

David Walsh-Little


B6 The writer is director, Sowebo Center for Justice.

Country Life

O.K., O.K., so I'm a city jerk. Always was, probably always will be. I live in the country now, but only because it costs less.

The thing that repels me most about country living is its values, especially as they relate to guns. On being shown into the living room of a country home, one looks to the fireplace and usually, reverently in place over the mantle, is a gun. A huge one.

This is understandable: the rifle, whatever, is the weapon by which John Q. Bumpkin's forefather achieved his status as a property owner. But the kneeling and scraping, the bowing, the reverence, the -- jeez!

The country is a lovely place to visit, but I prefer living in the city. So what if the city gunslinger carries his weapon in an inner

pocket and uses it far too often? I still prefer city life.

dith P. Cockey



I'll bet a dollar to a doughnut that Richard Ochs ("Bombing Hiroshima Was a Capitalist Crime," letter, Sept. 2) is a member of the New Party. I am a moderate Republican, yet much of what they stand for I can endorse: Publicly funded elections, strong environmental policies and racial and gender equality. But to say bombing Hiroshima was a capitalist crime and capitalistic competition led to two world wars is nonsense. This is warmed-over Marxism.

The brutal Marxism of Lenin and Stalin made Russia a world power, but at a horrific cost in human life and liberty. Mao's despotic Marxism awakened and united China; but, again, at a terrible cost in human suffering. The benign socialism of the Labor Party in England wrecked the economy, but they did one great thing -- they let the empire go. George Orwell, who served some years in Burma with the British police, called colonialism a capitalistic racket, which it was: some British trading firms in Burma and India paid dividends of 200-300 percent yearly for scores of years. Yet George Orwell later repudiated Marxism.

What has happened to the Pacific Rim countries bears this out. Japan is now second to the U.S. as an economic power, the four East Asian tigers, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, all aggressively capitalistic, are booming. Only poor Burma, now call Myanmar, pursuing its Buddhist way to socialism is a social and economic basket case. Even China is now more capitalistic than communistic in its economy. Capitalism, with all its historic evils, has over the years provided a more abundant life for more people in more places than any other economic system.

Tom Gill

North Beach

Diesels Pollute, Too

I found something missing in two articles concerning air pollution that I read last month. There was no mention of trucks, buses or any diesel-powered vehicles.

Where are the data showing the amount of pollution from these vehicles? Some people believe that diesel-powered vehicles do not cause an air pollution problem. Anyone who has been on the street corner as a bus pulls away from the curb or unfortunate enough to be behind one in an auto knows the truth. They take your breath away. Sometimes you can tell when a truck or bus has passed an intersection because the dark cloud is still there.

I agree that auto emissions should be kept in check. I also believe that if we are serious about cleaning the air all vehicles should be tested. Diesel-fueled vehicles should be made to reduce their emissions to the same extent as gasoline-fueled vehicles.

Douglas M. Bayne Sr.


Fat Cats

The Sun reports that incumbent House members set a new record for fund-raising. Reports from the Senate are not yet in.

I have a question.

The Congress seems determined to enact legislation benefiting a small percentage of our population in the very top economic brackets, largely at the expense of a large percentage of our population in the very low economic brackets. One would assume that the major sources of fund-raising are the former and little or none comes from the latter.

Could there possibly be some correlation, albeit coincidental, of course, between the campaign contributions received by some members of Congress from certain "fat cats" and the votes of these members of Congress affecting these corpulent felines?

Herman Katkow


Cal Immortal?

Talk about misplaced priorities: your grossly overblown accolades for Cal Ripken boggle the mind. All this hype just because someone shows up for work every day for several years?

Are you seriously suggesting that a perfect attendance record entitles a person to be labeled immortal?

They say it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game. Or is it how often you play the game?

Jack Johnston


African Americans Must Take Responsibility for Themselves

Tananarive Due's article in the Perspective section (Aug. 27) on the dilemma faced by today's young African Americans was very illuminating.

The headline said that the lack of leaders among the black youth is due to a lack of cause. But then the article described the continually increasing impoverishment, deprivation and pervasive social backwardness of the African-American community across the U.S. The black leaders of the 1960s such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X made a crucial contribution in the emancipation of their community. They demonstrated to the whites that they had created an unjust society that had not lived up to Lincoln's pledges of equal status for blacks.

Thirty years ago the politics of protest that forced the government to provide equal status to the blacks was very relevant.

But after three decades of affirmative action and similar programs, continuing to make demands on the government, without making any demands on the black community itself, does not play -- not even in the black community.

A sizable segment of today's black youth have far more self-respect and are not willing to listen to leaders who want them to only ask for handouts. They are acutely conscious of the damaging social problems in their community such as unwed mothers, rampant drug use, crime, ongoing suppression of black women by the black men.

Unfortunately, the younger colleagues of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X -- several of whom became mayors of large cities such as Atlanta, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago or prominent black leaders by riding on the coattails of their illustrious mentors -- never saw fit to change their politics to include genuine reform in their community. In order to remain popular in their community and in the face of opportunistic black politicians, they shied away from unpopular measures.

I am sure in their place, Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X -- both of whom were visionaries and true leaders -- would have chosen to bite the bullet and implement movements for large-scale internal social reform. They would have accepted a Clarence Thomas rather than lynch him.

Today, while affirmative action is still needed, it is time to stop branding reformers as sellouts and put a priority on internal reform. In fact, it is a moment of truth for the emerging black leaders, on whose shoulders the mantle of King and Malcolm X now rests, as America hurtles into the 21st century. One hopes that they will face up to the fact that today the lack of responsible behavior by a significant segment in their own community is equally as responsible as the discriminatory attitude of some white people for their continued alienation from mainstream America.

Kaleem Kawaja

Ellicott City

Casinos Are Not Worth the Gamble

Earlier this year, Gov. Parris Glendening appointed a task force to study the effects of casino gambling on Maryland. This committee's recommendations will be forwarded to the General

Assembly in time for its next session when it will consider a number of measures that would legalize casino gambling in this state. Before our legislators jump at the promise of quick riches, I would urge them to look at the effects casino gambling would have on life in Maryland.

Promoters of casino gambling say it will produce an economic windfall for Maryland and create needed jobs. However, much evidence exists to indicate that the net economic effects of casino gambling are often negative.

Most gambling-related jobs tend to be low-paying. A 1991 study by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission found that nearly two-thirds of casino employees made $25,000 or less annually. According to the Nevada Employment Security Department, a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas earns a median hourly wage of $4.25 (excluding tips).

In addition, a 1994 study by University of Massachusetts-Amherst urban planning professor Robert Goodman found that "money for gambling is usually diverted from people's discretionary expenditures. Not only are dollars diverted from other products and services, but governments often lose sales taxes which would have been spent on those products and services."

For example, in the decade following the introduction of casinos into Atlantic City, 40 percent of the city's restaurants were forced to close.

University of Illinois economist Earl Grinols conducted a study of 10 Illinois counties in which casinos were opened between 1990 and 1993. He found that "the net effect of gambling was that roughly one job was lost for each gambling job created." So much for the windfall. Gambling, according to John Kindt, University of Illinois professor of economics and commerce, "always hurts the economy, it always created large socioeconomic problems. And that intensifies the needs for tax dollars to address the new problems that they are creating by legalizing gambling."

Maryland has already conducted a two-year study on the problems gambling has caused here in in this state.

In 1990, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene published the "Final Report from the Task Force on Gambling Addiction in Maryland." The report concluded that gambling costs Maryland $1.5 billion annually in lost work productivity, unpaid taxes, bankruptcies, gambling-related criminal activity and other considerations.

There are also well documented links between casino-style gambling and crime. According to facts cited in Professor Goodwin's study, in the three years following the opening of its first casino, Atlantic City went from 50th to first in the nation in per capita crime. In Central City, Colorado, assaults and thefts have increased by 400 percent in just the two years after gambling was introduced, according to a Washington Post article.

In 1994, Florida voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have introduced casinos statewide. Prior to the vote, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement studied the likely criminal justice effects of casinos and concluded, "Casinos will result in more Floridians and visitors being robbed, raped, assaulted, and otherwise injured." And former New Jersey Attorney General John Degnan asserted, "Anybody who goes into gambling should recognize . . . that organized crime will be attracted to it like sharks to a bloated body."

This is to say nothing of the social implications of legalized casino gambling. Marital disharmony and divorce, child abuse and neglect, substance abuse and suicide attempts are prevalent within those families touched by gambling problems, according to a 1995 report on gambling by Ronald Reno, social research associate for the public policy division of Focus on the Family, from which many of these statistics were derived. The federal government's Commission on the Review of the National Policy toward Gambling found that those in the lowest income bracket lost more than three times as much money to gambling, as a percentage of income, as those at the wealthiest end of the spectrum. As such, this gambling is a form of regressive taxation in that it relies disproportionately on the lower economic classes for revenue relative to income.

The most far-reaching effect of gambling, though, appears to be its inherent undermining of the work ethic. As George Will has said, "The more people believe in the importance of luck, chance, randomness, fate, the less they believe in the importance of stern virtues such as industriousness, thrift, deferral of gratification, diligence, studiousness."

Casino gambling eats away at the moral fabric of our society, which is already torn enough. This state needs to foster programs that will strengthen its citizens' character instead of encouraging them to reach for "fool's gold." In the words of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, "Casinos are not worth the gamble."

Paul Comfort


Rich or Poor, Reasons Vary

I am writing the following as a response to the Sept. 3 Perspective section article, "For Most Americans, Economic Pie is Shrinking."

I have read and heard the class warfare rhetoric from the liberal side for some time now. Your article really is representative of the wedge that the liberals are trying to place between the rich and the poor.

Author Edward N. Wolff only used the statistics that supported his premise -- that the rich are getting richer at the expense of the poor.

He did not mention or attempt to look at other data that would have an impact on the figures he presented.

He did not even leave the reader with any thought that other socio-economic factors could have had an impact on the figures from which he derives his conclusion.

I contend that this class warfare rhetoric is what is causing the perception that the rich are getting rich at the expense of the poor. This rhetoric has stigmatized affluence. At one time in America, everyone dreamed of being rich, gaining land, buying the finer things. Not everyone made it, but the dream remained alive in the hearts of men, because America was the "Land of Opportunity."

America is fast becoming not the land of opportunity, but the land of handouts.

Has Mr. Wolff researched where or how the rich came into their wealth? Some inherited the wealth or won it in a lottery, but most of the rich obtained their wealth through hard work, by the sweat of their brow. By themselves, they worked, brought themselves up from their own lack of wealth and made it for themselves in this land of opportunity.

Now, liberals are telling these people that these entrepreneurs do not deserve the wealth; that it is unfair that they have their wealth and the poor do not. Now the rich are made to feel guilty, penalized through taxes for their success, and the money is given to those who did not earn it. Where is the profit for hard work? Punish the rich, give to the poor. The rich are now less rich and the poor are poorer.

We are now telling the poor to stay where they are because, if they succeed and become rich, they will become part of the problem in the country. And why work, when the sweat of someone else's brow puts food on your table and clothes on your back?

Some time ago, I became involved in an entrepreneurial enterprise that would have provided jobs to many people. I begged people to come do the work. If they worked hard, they could do well for themselves. I could not get one person to work for me.

The training was free. I was prepared to guide them until they felt comfortable to be on their own, and they would be doing good things for the customer. I could have helped many people make a living for themselves, but not one would sign up . . . not one. All I received were excuses.

I am not belittling the plight of the poor. We will always have the poor. That has not changed for thousands of years. The position of the poor as a class is not the fault of the rich. The poor are in their position through several instances that include, but are not confined to, circumstances, bad judgment, choice and health.

None of these falls into the control of the wealthy or are a fallout of their success.

To the poor: Be careful of those who are seeking retribution from the rich on your behalf. You will see little of it, you will not partake of the benefits of jobs or income related to the success of the rich (i.e., jobs created by the investments into businesses, etc.), and you will get poorer. The liberals have lured you into thinking that they work for you, that you do not have to work for yourselves, and that they will provide for you.

They are only feeding themselves and their egos.

Sean M. Lynch


Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad